International Mountain Guides ( Everest 2002 Expedition

IMG Everest 2002 Dispatch 8

International Mountain Guides (IMG) Expedition Leader Eric Simonson reports that on May 6, 2002 Sherpas Ang Passang, Phu Nuru, Mingma Tshering, Mingma Ongel, and Danuru, all employed by the IMG Everest 2002 Expedition, returned to Base Camp with oxygen bottles they had carried down from the South Col (26,000 feet) on May 5th. These 19 cylinders were the last of a bygone era, the last used oxygen bottles left on the South Col of the thousands that littered the area several years ago.  Ang Passang reported they were unable to find any additional cylinders despite an extensive search around the Col, and his report was confirmed the next day when a second group of IMG Sherpas reached the Col and were unable to find any more abandoned cylinders.

The Sherpas look for cylinders to assist in IMG's ongoing effort to remove litter and abandoned climbing equipment from the upper mountain, and in doing so the Sherpas earn a bonus from IMG for their extra effort.  For several years now Sherpas from different teams have earned extra income by carrying down junk O2 bottles from the South Col, bottles used and discarded by past expeditions.  International Mountain Guides has been paying the standard rate of 450 Nepal Rupees per kilo of weight.  The average bottle weighs about 2-3 kg empty, so the bonus paid is in the range of US$10-$15 bottle.  Some Sherpas have been known to carry down as many as ten bottles at a time.

Thanks to their hard work and incredible climbing strength, the Sherpas have helped IMG and others in the mountaineering community to finally undo, once and for all, the impact of litter on the South Col, waste that exemplified some bad habits of the climbers of yesteryear. In this, the UN's Year of the Mountain, we can gladly send word that the old, discarded bottles are completely gone from Everest's infamous South Col.

Eric Simonson

Expedition Leader




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